Hollow – Between Eternities of Darkness – Album Review

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Artist: Hollow

Album Title: Between Eternities of Darkness

Label: Rockshot Records

Date of Release: 6 December 2018

I had cause the other week to rehouse a few of my ever-expanding CDs and in so doing, I cast my eyes upon an album called ‘Architect of the Mind’, a little-known album released via Nuclear Blast Records in 1999. It was recorded by a Swedish band called Hollow and I remember discovering it in a second-hand record shop a few years after its release. I’ll admit I knew nothing about Hollow at the time and decided to buy it based on the record label alone because I was aware by that time of the pedigree of the Nuclear Blast label.

If I’m honest, it never got particularly regular rotation, although I liked several of the songs on the album. The progressive-leaning power metal was nicely written and executed, but the production and generally higher-pitched vocal delivery meant that it felt quite harsh to listen to. But nevertheless, I liked it enough to casually wonder to myself whatever happened to the band. After ‘Architect of the Mind’ the Swedes seemed to disappear off the face of the planet.

As fate and happenstance would have it, just a couple of days later, I get a message in my inbox from Andreas Stoltz, an original founding member of Hollow, proudly declaring that Hollow were back and releasing their first album in two decades. The world moves in mysterious ways, I can tell you.

Naturally, I agreed to take a listen and, after several more spins, I’m in a position to offer my thoughts on ‘Between Eternities of Darkness’, effectively the solo work of vocalist and guitarist Andreas Stoltz, with Stalder Zantos on the drums and a few others offering brief guest appearances elsewhere.

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In keeping with ‘Architect…’, this new album is a concept piece, about a mother who moves home to try to protect her adolescent son. According to Stoltz, the best-placed intentions don’t work out and the woman’s son is led down the wrong path by a new set of friends. The story plays out over ten tracks, during a 45-minute running time. As concepts go, it is refreshingly brief and certainly not overblown and exhausting.

In some ways, it doesn’t seem possible that it has been nearly 20 years since Hollow’s last outing because Stoltz’s voice is almost instantly recognisable. It has retained that higher-pitched delivery from the previous albums and contains that sense of passion that was always present. Stoltz’s voice definitely remains an acquired taste I find but it’s a taste I am really beginning to acquire. And he does a fine job in trying to tell the story with as much strength and commitment as possible, which I find very laudable indeed.

Strangely, those same misgivings that I had with ‘Achitect…’ remain more or less present here too. Once again, if I’m being brutally honest, the combination of Stoltz’s vocals and the production lend the music a slightly harsh edge. It’s almost like things are too clear and too trebly perhaps, thereby lacking an organic quality.

However, in spite of this, you’d have to be a fool not to realise that there are some strong elements to ‘Between Eternities of Darkness’. The overall approach is still very much rooted in the classic metal/power metal-meets-prog intersection, meaning that the music is likely to find some favour with those who enjoy bands such as Queensryche and Crimson Glory to name just two. Indeed, these are reference points that Stoltz himself makes.

Despite the dark overtones to the subject matter, much of the music is catchy and memorable, and there’s an undeniably great energy to the material. It feels sufficiently dramatic too, an important aspect of a concept album in my opinion. Plus, as I’m finding, the more I listen, the more I’m enjoying the record. Each spin sees an increase in the score that I am likely to bestow. That’s got to be a positive, right?

‘Travel Far’ is a muscular, riff-driven affair with hints of thrash, that benefits from an urgent tempo for the most part. It also injects an understated progressive element in terms of its construction, use of light and shade and the way in which the chorus is jarring at first but which gets to you eventually in an insidious manner.

Then there are songs like ‘Fate of the Jester’, which dial up the drama by moving quickly between heavy early Queensryche territory, to darker, quieter moments, all the while keeping the listener invested by pulling out some effective hooks and melodies.

Elsewhere, ‘Pull of the Undertow’ gallops with vim and vigour, carrying you along for the ride very willingly, whilst delivering a really strong chorus that shows Stoltz at his best vocally and which features a nice lead guitar line to accent the galloping rhythms. ‘Hidden’ is another strong song that offers some exuberant guitar leads on top of further appealing riffs to make it stand out positively. Indeed, ‘Calling’ keeps me entertained too, blending more light and shade and then proffering a cheeky-sounding chorus.

The ballad-like ‘Shadow World’ has to be my favourite track of all here because it is both sensitive and powerful, the perfect combination. The acoustic guitars are a welcome addition, especially within the quiet introduction, but the way in which the song then explodes directly into the melodic chorus is excellent. Actually, maybe this is the song that best showcases Stoltz’s voice after all, moving from subtle and quiet to bold and passionate very smoothly.

I’m genuinely delighted that Andreas Stoltz and Hollow are back with new material. Sometimes resurrections after such a long hiatus can be a mistake but in this case, it is a success. ‘Between Eternities of Darkness’ is certainly good enough to turn heads and remind fans of this kind of metal why they are fans in the first place. I sincerely hope that Hollow stick around this time and I shall look forward to more new music sooner rather than later…I hope!

The Score of Much Metal: 8.25

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from 2018 and from previous years right here:

2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

Sigh – Heir To Despair
Threads of Fate – A Funeral For The Virtuous
Nachtmystium – Resilient EP
Divine Ascension – The Uncovering
Godless – Swarm
Universe Effects – Desolation
Kalidia – The Frozen Throne
Rikard Sjoblom’s Gungfly – Friendship
Ashes of Ares – Well of Souls
Veonity – Legend of the Starborn
Bloodbath – The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn
Nochnoy Dozor – Nochnoy Dozor EP
Vola – Applause of a Distant Crowd
Lost In Thought – Renascence
Into Eternity – The Sirens
Fifth Angel – The Third Secret
Ashes of my Memory – Raptures /// Disillusions EP
Anathema – Internal Landscapes
Samskaras – Lithification
Seventh Dimension – The Corrupted Lullaby
Hate Eternal – Upon Desolate Sands
Witherfall – A Prelude To Sorrow
Northward – Northward
Seventh Wonder – Tiara
Warrel Dane – Shadow Work
Haken – Vector
Beyond Creation – Algorythm
Ultha – The Inextricable Wandering
Amaranthe – Helix
Ghost Ship Octavius – Delirium
Decembre Noir – Autumn Kings
The Odious Construct – Shrine of the Obscene
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The Moor – Jupiter’s Immigrants
Revocation – The Outer Ones
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Deicide – Overtures of Blasphemy
Brainstorm – Midnight Ghost
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Kingcrow – The Persistence
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A Dying Planet – Facing The Incurable
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Mob Rules – Beast Reborn
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Manticora – To Kill To Live To Kill
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Tomorrow’s Eve – Mirror of Creation III – Project Ikaros
Atrocity – Okkult II
Lux Terminus – The Courage To Be
Kataklysm – Meditations
Marduk – Viktoria
Midas Fall – Evaporate
The Sea Within – The Sea Within
Haken – L-1VE
Follow The Cipher – Follow The Cipher
Spock’s Beard – Noise Floor
Ihsahn – Amr
The Fierce And The Dead – The Euphoric
Millennial Reign – The Great Divide
Subsignal – La Muerta
At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
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Widow’s Peak – Graceless EP
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Wallachia – Monumental Heresy
Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality
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Kamelot – The Shadow Theory
Barren Earth – A Complex of Cages
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Kino – Radio Voltaire
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W.E.T. – Earthrage
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Susperia – The Lyricist
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Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart
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Deathwhite – For A Black Tomorrow
Conjurer – Mire
Jukub Zytecki – Feather Bed/Ladder Head
Lione/Conti – Lione/Conti
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Kælling – Lacuna
Vinide – Reveal
Armored Dawn – Barbarians In Black
Long Distance Calling – Boundless
In Vain – Currents
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs
Tribulation – Down Below
Machine Head – Catharsis
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Arch Echo – Arch Echo
Asenblut – Legenden
Bleeding Gods – Dodekathlon
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